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An Independent Workday Software Review

Workday’s HCM and Payroll software provides an intuitive and appealing core system-of-record for managing the full onboard-to-retire process for both employees and contingent workers in an increasingly global environment. Divisible in a number of potential configurations, the company’s software portfolio is roughly divided into 5 primary software modules (with Payroll being a separate solution). These modules include: Organization Management, Workforce Lifecycle Management, Compensation Management, Absence Management and Employee Benefits.


The Workday Payroll software comes in one of three distinctly different packages:

  • Workday Payroll
    This application software addresses a full range of what most companies in the United States and Canada will need for payroll functionality. Workday Payroll software offers functionality to define earnings and deductions using compensation elements and benefit plan costs captured by Workday HCM; create identifying eligibility criteria and scheduling logic; configure accumulations, balance periods, and balances according to current calculations and reporting needs; easily modify the list of accumulations, balance periods, or balances at any time; and group workers into logical pay groups according to company needs (and without restrictions related to the Employer ID or type of worker).

    As is customary for most of the other similarly-situated enterprise-level HR and Payroll software solutions, Workday Payroll is built as part of the greater Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) software suite—a fact that does allow for some built-in efficiencies, including utilization of the same business process framework (and core worker data) for both applications as well as a unified self-service system for employees (i.e. time off requests, online pay slip checking, payment elections and more can all be made from the same system). Additionally, with a dynamic combination of load balancing (in-memory across multiple servers), and a tabular data store, Workday software significantly decreases the amount of compute time necessary to handle the heavy processing needed for payroll.

    As with all of Workday’s applications, built-in analytics for payroll are plentiful—providing the ability to run reports and audits on payroll-related data. Workday Payroll software also includes the ability to use pre-defined reports for common and critical information; run audits reports (at the summary, pay group, or worker level); take action in real-time on a pay-calculation result for a worker (via a one-click actionable report); compare payroll results across periods; control how gross-to-net is calculated for different types of payroll runs; define criteria for specific earnings or deductions, reductions and allowances (including gross-up calculations and garnishments); run multiple pay groups concurrently; assign one or more cost centers to workers (and define how earnings will be allocated); and calculate and/or report on any earning, deduction, or accumulation for any period of time.

  • Payroll Co-Sourcing Services
    This payroll solution is provided through BPO vendor OneSource Virtual HR (dedicated payroll and tax specialists). Workday’s Payroll Co-sourcing Service provides capabilities for payroll settlement services (i.e. direct deposit processing; check printing/distribution; payroll settlement/funding; W-2 printing/distribution, etc.); tax administration (i.e. Federal, State, and Local payroll tax calculations/filings/deposits; daily, quarterly, and annual tax obligations processing; filing of annual W-2; monthly and quarterly tax reconciliation, response to agency inquiries, etc.) and garnishments administration (i.e. order receiving from client; garnishment processing orders; authority notifications, etc.). These services allow customers to retain control and visibility of payroll data (because payroll is always processed within a client’s own tenant in a multi-tenant SaaS model); take advantage of the always-on audit control of Workday; provide self-service access for employees to access their payslips through Workday HCM; and reduce the overall manual effort it takes to process payroll, taxes, and garnishments.

  • Cloud Connect for 3rd-Party Payroll
    This software module serves as a reporting feature for drilling into global positions, headcount, turnover, demographics, employee/position history, and compliance. Several high level Workday Talent Management functions originate from this module.

    The Workday Payroll Connector offers a method for customers to integrate bi-directionally to multiple 3rd-party payroll systems. This element includes Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) features that support data models required by external payroll systems and also offers web services that identify and transfer the Workday HCM events that affect payroll. With these configuration features, Workday software can capture personal and job/position data within Workday HCM; assign employees to their pay groups directly; and define earnings/deductions (including benefit plan deductions, pay periods, and benefits/allowances) to match required structures. The Workday Payroll Connector can structure pay groups to match the payroll solution’s requirements; configure and populate custom payroll fields that are required by the payroll software; define transactions as one-time (or one-off) payroll events; format and validate that data conforms to the payroll software requirements; and run payroll data audits to see exactly what data was captured, selected, and sent for payroll processing.
  • Employee Benefits

    This Workday Payroll software is available in one of three distinctly different packages:

    Enabling HR staff to design and implement a number of benefit plans (and control the plans that are eligible for selection by employees during open enrollment or benefit change events), this software module also allows HR managers to automate benefit events; including new hire enrollment, benefit change events, terminations, and passive events. Customers can also configure default enrollment logic for staff that miss the benefits enrollment window, and additionally designate what benefit changes are allowed for different types of events.

    Workday's Cloud Connect for Benefits complements this primary module by providing HR departments with a catalog of pre-built integrations to benefits providers—essentially giving companies the ability to evaluate, select, and offer the most appropriate plans for their workforces. This option also permits companies to choose from a pre-populated list of benefits providers without having to deal with the providers’ technical specifications. Workday automatically populates relevant employee information and presents the templates, maps and required company-specific information to the benefits administrator. When benefits providers change their specifications, Cloud Connect for Benefits can update the integration with little to no additional internal IT investment.

    Workforce Lifecycle Management

    The Workforce Lifecycle Management application is the global core of the Workday software and includes the tools to plan, hire, manage, and analyze a global workforce. More specifically, this module enables the creation of a workforce plan with headcount, position, and cost budgets; the setup and maintenance of jobs and positions; the assignment of compensation; and the configuration of HCM and payroll processes (by region, division, or organization). With regards to analysis, this module serves as the reporting for drilling into global positions, headcount, turnover, demographics, employee/position history, and compliance. The higher level functions that Workday's Talent Management software provides appear to originate from this module.

    Organization Management

    Workday's answer for creating and managing multiple organization types; easily reorganizing when necessary; segmenting flexible (and global) reporting, and securing organizational data access; this software module is one of the hallmarks of Workday's application and delivers the ability to accurately represent organizational structures in a timely manner and react quickly or even proactively to organizational restructuring—a unique value proposition from the Workday solution given that most traditional ERP systems allow for limited organizational structures that are often difficult to change.

    Absence Management

    A relatively simple tool that shares its calculation features with Workday Payroll, Absence Management is a straightforward application for (you guessed it) calculating absences. Though not uniquely different from similarly-situated absence management systems, Workday’s approach yields reliable and steady calculation results. Plus, due to the shared foundation of payroll and absences, additional features in the form of employee self-service using a single administrator/employee portal can be found in this module. Specific features for this module includes the ability to establish eligibility criteria for different groups and organizations for different time-off or leave benefits; configure business processes and rules for approving and routing time-off requests; provide an intuitive user experience for employees to request time-off or check time-off balances; and maintain consistency of accrual calculations between Workday Absence and Workday Payroll Management.

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